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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Controversy surrounds Davidson Jr.'s death

Three days after 18-year-old Highbridge resident and basketball star Andre "Pop" Davidson Jr. collapsed and died, his death remains wrapped in controversy.

Davidson, a starter this past season at John F. Kennedy High School, collapsed Saturday afternoon at St. Mary's Rec Center in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx, while competing in a one-day basketball tournament. The gym where he was playing does not have an air-conditioner, and many of Davidson's family members told the Highbridge Horizon today that they believe his death was heat-related.

Megan Cuccia, a spokesperson for the city medical examiner's office, said the cause of Davidson's death was under investigation, and that further tests needed to be performed. Cuccia said she could not release any of the examiner's preliminary findings.

Addressing reporters yesterday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg downplayed suggestions that the lack of air conditioning at St. Mary's was to blame for Davidson's death.

"I haven't seen the Medical Examiner's report about exactly what happened," Bloomberg said.

"Generally, 19-year-olds [sic] don't drop dead of heart attacks, or whatever happened in this case. And it's not clear that air conditioning would have made any difference."

Calls to St. Mary's Rec Center late Tuesday afternoon were referred to the city parks department, which had not returned requests for comment as of this posting.

Davidson is not the first member of his family to die under controversial circumstances. On August 15 1997, his father, Andre Davidson Sr. , died at the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville, NY, after suffering an asthma attack. A nurse took 40 minutes to respond to other inmates' calls for help, and, upon finally arriving, did not have resuscitation equipment.
The elder Davidson's mother, Beverly, ultimately won a lawsuit against the state of New York and was awarded $900,000.

The younger Davidson's 16-year-old brother, Brandon Givens, is also asthmatic, but Givens said Davidson was not. Davidson's family described him as extremely healthy, and said he did not have any medical conditions that would have made him especially sensitive to heat.

Asked if he was taking any medications that could have played a role in his death, his mother, Nicole Givens, answered in the negative. "He wouldn't even take his vitamins," Givens said.

Davidson's great-grandmother, Rhoda Lucas -- who raised Davidson since 1993-- said she last saw him alive around 12:30 pm on Saturday, when he left her home on Woodycrest Avenue for St. Mary's Rec Center. A few short hours later, she received a phone call from one of his teammates, who informed her that Davidson had collapsed and urged her to rush to the gym. By the time she arrived at St. Mary's, an ambulance was taking her great-grandson to Lincoln Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

David Barbosa, a friend of Davidson's, was in the gym when Davidson collapsed. Barbosa said that on his final basketball play, Davidson stole the ball from the opposing team, went up for a lay-up, and was fouled, before falling backwards. Barbosa said Davidson then began bleeding from the mouth and nose. Friends and family also said that, after collapsing, Davidson began shaking; they said Davidson had never experienced a seizure before.

Davidson was the nephew of actress Robin Givens, who starred in films such as "Boomerang," (1992) and "Blankman" (1994). Her other acting credits include apperances on several television shows, including "Head of the Class," "The Cosby Show," "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," and "House of Payne."

Funeral services for Davidson are scheduled for 10am this Friday, July 8, at Mount Hermon Baptist Church on 1170 Nelson Avenue.


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